How to tie a simple helicopter rig for specimen fishing

The helicopter rig forms the basis of the vast majority of big carp fishing set-ups used by specimen anglers. It’s incredibly simple to create and its fish-safe too. This means that if the rig is created properly, a fish is hooked and the mainline breaks or the lead becomes snagged, the lead and line will eject from the rig.

You don’t require much in the way of terminal tackle to tie this rig – five things in fact. They are: a lead, a swivel, a lead clip with tail rubber, a carp hook of a size to match your bait and some hair stops. An offcut of your strong mainline could be used for your hooklength if you wish, but some anglers prefer to use camouflaged braid. And in this example a tiny piece of silicone tubing has been threaded onto the hair and hook to produce a line-aligner rig.

This set-up works upon the principle that the short hooklength combined with a heavy lead ensures that when a fish picks up the bait it will very quickly feel the weight of the heavy lead and then bolt off, hooking itself in the process. That’s when your bobbin rises and your alarm screams.

It can be used in the margins or as far as you can cast. It can be used on lakes, rivers and canals, and it can be used throughout the year. This is one rig that you really ought to know how to tie, it really is that important.

Here’s how to tie it…


A Tie a hair-rig and attach your bait so that it almost touches the bend of the hook. Here a tiny piece of silicone tubing has been threaded onto the hair and hook in order to align the hair upon the hook shank.

B Although you could use a length of strong mono (10-12lb is ideal) most anglers prefer to use a braided line that matches the colour of the venue’s bottom. Use a hooklength of between 6ins and 12ins to ensure you create a bolt rig effect. Tie a swivel onto the end of your hooklength.

C This is a lead clip. It is available in packs from many different specialist tackle manufacturers and comprises a plastic lead clip and tail rubber. The tail rubber should be threaded onto the line first, then the plastic clip and the hooklength swivel should be tied onto the end of the mainline.

D Your lead needs to have a swivel and quite heavy. 2oz is around the minimum weight, but you may need to go as heavy as 5oz to keep the rig stationary when fishing for big barbel in powerful, flooded rivers. Attach the lead’s swivel to the line clip and push the clip and tail rubber together to secure the rig.

E An ideal mainline for fishing in this way is 12lb, but if you are fishing extremely snaggy and weedy waters you may need to go as heavy as 15lb or even 18lb.